New book! “The Irish Buddhist”

Alicia Turner, Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking are delighted to announce that after more than a decade’s research involving a network of scholars around the world, the life of U Dhammaloka has just seen the light of day as The Irish Buddhist: the Forgotten Monk who Faced Down the British Empire (Oxford University Press). It’s out in ebook from the usual places (March 31 2020); in hardcopy for North American readers (April 20, 2020); and for readers in Europe from May 28, 2020. Hardcopies are 30% off with code AAFLYG6 from the publisher’s website.

“The Irish Buddhist is the story of a truly extraordinary Irish emigrant, sailor and migrant worker who became a Buddhist monk and anti-colonial activist in early twentieth-century Asia. Born Laurence Carroll in 1856, U Dhammaloka defied the British Empire and missionary Christianity in defence of local culture. He had five different aliases, a 25-year gap in his biography, was tried for sedition, put under police and intelligence surveillance, faked his own death, and ultimately disappeared.”

We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed researching it!

The Irish Buddhist


Just published: “A Buddhist Crossroads”

Brian Bocking, Phibul Choompolpaisal, Laurence Cox, Alicia M Turner (eds.),
A Buddhist Crossroads: Pioneer Western Buddhists and Asian Networks 1860 – 1960.  (Routledge, Aug 2014)

ISBN 978-1-13-878958-6 (hardback)
192pp, 5 images £90 / $150 (paperback may follow)

UPDATE: 20% discount available from Routledge website: enter code FLR40 at checkout


In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Buddhism in Asia was transformed by the impact of colonial modernity and new technologies and began to spread in earnest to the West. Transnational networking among Asian Buddhists and early western converts engendered pioneering attempts to develop new kinds of Buddhism for a globalized world, in ways not controlled by any single sect or region. Drawing on new research by scholars worldwide, this book brings together some of the most extraordinary episodes and personalities of a period of almost a century from 1860-1960. Examples include Indian intellectuals who saw Buddhism as a homegrown path for a modern post-colonial future, poor whites ‘going native’ as Asian monks, a Brooklyn-born monk who sought to convert Mussolini, and the failed 1950s attempt to train British monks to establish a Thai sangha in Britain. Some of these stories represent creative failures, paths not taken, which may show us alternative possibilities for a more diverse Buddhism in a world dominated by religious nationalisms. Other pioneers paved the way for the mainstreaming of new forms of Buddhism in later decades, in time for the post-1960s takeoff of ‘global Buddhism’.

The contents of this book were previously published as a special issue of the journal Contemporary Buddhism. This book format publication makes these stories available to those who do not subscribe to the journal. Please consider asking your library to purchase a copy of the hardback: if there is sufficient interest the publishers may make the book available in a cheaper paperback format.



  1. Introduction: A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer European Buddhists and globalizing Asian networks 1860-1960 Alicia Turner, Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking
  2. Flagging up Buddhism: Charles Pfoundes (Omoie Tetzunostzuke) among the international congresses and expositions, 1893-1905 Brian Bocking
  3. Buddhist councils in a time of transition: globalism, modernity and the preservation of textual traditions Tilman Frasch
  4. Three boys on a great vehicle: ‘Mahayana Buddhism’ and a trans-national network Shin’ichi Yoshinaga
  5. The Bible, the bottle and the knife: religion as a mode of resisting colonialism for U Dhammaloka Alicia Turner
  6. Ananda Metteyya: controversial networker, passionate critic Elizabeth J. Harris
  7. Tai-Burmese-Lao Buddhisms in the ‘modernizing’ of Ban Thawai (Bangkok): the dynamic interaction between ethnic minority religion and British – Siamese centralization in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries Phibul Choompolpaisal
  8. Rethinking early western Buddhists: beachcombers, ‘going native’ and dissident Orientalism Laurence Cox
  9. ‘Like embers hidden in ashes, or jewels encrusted in stone’: Rāhul Sāṅkṛtyāyan, Dharmānand Kosambī and Buddhist activity in colonial India Douglas Ober
  10. Elective affinities: the reconstruction of a forgotten episode in the shared history of Thai and British Buddhism – Kapilavaḍḍho and Wat Paknam Andrew Skilton
  11. Brooklyn Bhikkhu: how Salvatore Cioffi became the Venerable Lokanatha Philip Deslippe



Brian Bocking is Professor of the Study of Religions at University College Cork, Ireland, and formerly Chair of the Study of Religions Dept. at SOAS, University of London. He has published mainly in the field of Japanese religions and is currently researching early Irish Buddhists.

Phibul Choompolpaisal is Research Associate in Thai Meditation Texts at King’s College London, UK. He is author of several articles on Thai Buddhism in the early modern period.

Laurence Cox is Lecturer in Sociology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland. He is author of Buddhism and Ireland (2013) and has published widely on social movements. He is currently working with Brian Bocking and Alicia Turner on the strange lives of U Dhammaloka and Capt. Charles Pfoundes.

Alicia Turner is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies in the Humanities department of York University in Toronto. She is the author of Saving Buddhism: Moral Community and the Impermanence of Colonial Religion (forthcoming) and editor of The Journal of Burma Studies.


The book from the journal from the conference from the research…

This July Routledge will publish A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer western Buddhists and Asian networks 1860-1960, edited by Brian Bocking, Phibul Choompolpaisal, Laurence Cox and Alicia Turner – initially in hardback. The book is a reprint of the special issue of Contemporary Buddhism of the same name, drawing on papers presented at the conference Southeast Asia as Buddhist crossroads.

The purpose of these “special issue as book” publications is of course to make the material available to those who do not have a university subscription to the journal. The book will come out in paperback if sales justify it, so if you are able to order a hardback copy for your library you will be making it easier for others to have access to an affordable version. Thanks!

Special issue from the conference now available

A special issue of the journal Contemporary Buddhism, with the title “A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer western Buddhists and Asian networks 1860-1960″, has just been published, representing selected proceedings from the conference.

You can read the editorial online (free) here and Alicia Turner’s article “The Bible, the bottle and the knife: religion as a mode of resisting colonialism for U Dhammaloka” online (free) here. The table of contents is available here and articles will be accessible via some university libraries.

Conference details


September 13th – 15th 2012, University College Cork

With 21 participants already confirmed from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland and the US, this conference is set to be a significant event in Buddhist and Southeast Asian studies. The conference programme is available here; a full set of abstracts is available here.

The recent discovery of the extraordinary life of ‘The Irish Buddhist’ U Dhammaloka (documented in a special issue of Contemporary Buddhism 11:2, December 2010 and here) has stimulated new avenues of research into numerous significant but neglected East-West and global Buddhist encounters.   This conference focuses on forgotten or under-represented Buddhist pioneers, their connections and collaborations, and the contribution of these individuals and networks to the construction of Buddhist modernities.

Casting South-East Asia as a ‘cross roads’ invites contributions on pioneer exchanges and connections not only between ‘the West’ and ‘Asia’ but also within Asia, from China, Korea and Japan through Southeast Asia to India and Ceylon. The period to be covered, broadly 1860-1960, is intended to include the earliest documented pioneer European [and e.g. Japanese] Buddhist practitioners of the colonial period whilst stopping short of the mass interest in Buddhism of the late 20th century. We are interested in any figures, groups or networks whose commitment to Asian Buddhist praxis in the colonial period contributed in some way to the emergence of modern global Buddhism and whose role was pioneering, rather than following a traditionally established path.  We are equally interested in networks of exchange and communication such as trade routes, monastic interrelationships, military ventures, cultural exchanges, missionary enterprises and imperialist and socialist (etc.) institutions and ideas which enabled Buddhists to interact in pioneering ways during this period.

Forgotten figures such as U Dhammaloka, despite their historical significance for these exchanges in colonial Asia, have long been obscured in conventional scholarly narratives which have presented a very small selection of ‘pioneer’ figures found respectable within today’s Western Buddhist lineages or canonised in Asian accounts. Recent discoveries overturning these entrenched narratives have been made possible in part by the new digitisation and indexing of colonial-era newspapers, travel books, directories, missionary reports and other obscure and disparate sources which can provide – often fragmentary – pointers to lost lives and events which may in the end be documented only through traditional archival research.  This conference aims to further this new and exciting field of research by bringing together scholars with a shared interest in global Buddhism and expertise in different periods and regions of Asia and the West.

We intend to produce a journal special issue or edited volume based on papers presented at the conference.

The conference will take place from Thursday afternoon 13th September to Saturday morning 15th September 2012 and is hosted by the Study of Religions Department, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. The conference is timed so as to be compatible with that of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists in Dublin. Practical information is available here and the programme is available here. The conference is co-organised by Prof Brian Bocking and Dr Phibul Choompolpaisal (UCC Study of Religions Department) with an advisory committee comprising Dr Laurence Cox (NUIM, Ireland), Prof Alicia Turner (York University, Toronto), Dr Andrew Skilton (KCL, London) and Dr Kate Crosby (SOAS, London), in association with the 12-month postdoctoral research fellowship project ‘Continuities and Transitions in Early Modern Thai Buddhism’ at UCC supported by the Dhammakaya International Society of the United Kingdom.  The Conference itself has a far wider remit than Thailand, and papers in all regions are warmly welcomed.

Enquiries should be emailed to Prof Brian Bocking in Cork, email:  b.bocking [at]   or to Dr Phibul Choompolpaisal in Thailand, email:  phibulart [at] For technical issues with the website, please contact laurence.cox [AT]